Resurrection is a powerful reality in Christian understanding and theology. The historical reality of Jesus rising from the dead is the compelling force behind every missionary venture, every journey of local church renewal, and every story we could celebrate of God’s Kingdom breaking in among us. I am so grateful for the ways that God is clearly giving new life among his people in Middle Baptist Association Churches. I want to share a few examples.
Elam Millen – Pastor Jody Bryant quietly led this congregation to baptize 31 new followers of Jesus last year. Elam is located in Four Points Community in rural Jenkins County on the old “Woodpecker Trail”, but their impact is being felt among their neighbors and as far away as El Salvador and as near as Savannah where the church regularly travels to feed the homeless. Jody is leading the church to practice community engagement through child fostering ministry and caring for “the least of these.”
FBC Springfield – Pastor Mike Spivey came to a church that was entrenched in turmoil. Following the death of a beloved pastor of 25 years and a subsequent crisis of identity and direction, God is using Mike and the members of FBC to reach many new young families. I love seeing the social media posts, week after week of new families who are connecting with FBC Springfield.
Rocky Ford – In a town of fewer than 200 people, the church at Rocky Ford is a great turn-around story. Mike Johnston, a marine veteran and first time pastor has seen sustained growth through his first five years of ministry. He recently travelled with me to the Georgia Baptist Associational Missionary’s retreat to narrate the story of God’s faithfulness to His church there. Mike also is engaging the community and County by serving them. Through Mike’s efforts to patiently know and love the congregation God is consistently adding to His body there.
Newington – Following a Baptist Collegiate Ministry retreat at Georgia Southern University recently, Pastor Aaron Webb is looking at baptizing between 12-15 middle and high school students on Easter Sunday. I recently preached at NBC on a Sunday morning when Aaron was down with the flu and the congregation is an amazing phenomenon: black, white and Hispanic worshipers and an incredible number of school age children and youth (who were intensely engaged) greeted me. There is a faithful core group of believers there who God is greatly using to transform their community.
Pineora – Pineora recently held a community outreach event (Easter Eggtravaganza with 10k eggs!) that attracted 557 registered guests from their community (not including the members of the church who were there in support of the event). These guests were registered for drawings and give-aways (and follow-up). This was truly a “low-risk/high grace” event. God is using pastor Brian McElveen and His people at Pineora in a phenomenal way.
Double Heads – This congregation recently called a young pastor (Joel Vancil), who at a mere 24 years-of-age has already been used by God to lead a church through revitalization in his hometown of Sunfield, Illinois. God is leading Joel to serve Double Heads and continue his education simultaneously at Brewton-Parker College. I had the opportunity to meet Joel and Alexis, his wife on their candidating visit and I am so excited for Double Heads! Joel has been connected to his former association and is committed to cooperative missions.
Conclusion – There are so many more stories that could be told about God’s work among His churches. Hopefully we can tell those stories later, too. But here is the main takeaway for me lately: there is no reason God can’t do this where you are. There is absolutely nothing preventing God from breaking out in resurrection power in your church. These communities where God is working are mostly rural, sometimes (not always) flat-lined population wise. It’s not stopping God from working (Ephesians 3:20)!